Our latest series sees a continuation of Universal Works sharing stories from our global community kingpins. By spotlighting the people living, working and doing good things in the vicinity of our stores and stockists, we reckon it’s all about Good People and Good Places.
London’s the next UW. hotspot and the second stop welcomes Tom Saunders — a man who really knows his onions when it comes to knives. Co-founder of the iconic Kitchen Provisions in Coal Drops Yard, Tom’s knife narnia is a mecca for anyone who likes a clean cut lifestyle and enjoys the stats on the edge retention of different steels. We perched ourselves next to the counter and sharpened up the story of how things got started.
A former chef, Tom freely admits he gets seriously ‘geeky’ about Japanese knives. He explained, “It’s one of those subjects that, when you know a little bit, you want to know more. We started Kitchen Provisions back in 2015 with two knives — and things have just grown from there. It all started off with my passion for Japanese knives and my partner's background living in Japan.” Laughing, he said, “It was basically a way to try and guarantee regular trips out there! But anyway, we slowly built it up from an online business together. From the London market scene, to opening our first shops. It has been a long journey but we've learnt a lot along the way.
Tom wears Road Shirt in Indigo Hand Print Cotton, Loose Cardigan in Brown Merino Knit, Five Pocket Jacket in Cumin Summer Canvas, Oxford Pant in Ecru Summer Canvas, Shoes Model's own.
My biggest inspiration is the Japanese knife industry. Which is pretty unique. There are a couple of small one or two man workshops working on a micro scale, producing the most exquisite, hand-made knives. They use relatively simple tools with skills that haven't changed for years. With so much hand craftsmanship being lost to the machine, it’s a pleasure to help keep one alive.”
As with anyone running a small business, Tom and his business partner Helen are heavily involved in all the elements. Choosing stock and being the friendly faces behind the shop counter. Tom commented, “Sounds like a cliché, but no two days are the same! We try to inspire people to cook well with good kit. Kitchen Provisions is full of the stuff we would want to use ourselves. It’s not always easy to import things into the U.K. — it can be a real headache sometimes, but the upside is we get to stock products with real personality. I feel really lucky that years after starting KP, I am still massively excited about what I do.” Maybe it’s time to chuck that old chef's knife away? Or at least transport it (safely) to Coal Drops Yard and see if Tom can sharpen it for you.